Mar./2010
(STRATEGIC PROPOSALS)
Software technologies for adapting requirement changes of information systems/CRDS-FY2009-SP-12
Executive Summary

Today information systems are the basis of almost all of the infrastructure of our society. Any failure in the information systems will cause tremendous impact on our society. Society requires information systems which are safe, secure and stable. It is widely recognized that the major cause of the information system failures is in software, which is steadily growing larger and getting more complex.

Research and development on software technology for safe, secure and stable information systems has been carried out for many years, and software development tools and methodologies have been developed to improve productivity and reliability. Although it seems as if software technology is approaching a maturity level, software in information systems based on open networks still have problems. For example, it is difficult to adapt to 1) unpredictable needs of unspecified users, and 2) the inevitable environment changes such as aging degradation of the information system itself or user’s specification changes. The issue of how software technology could cope with
such changes in information systems is no longer solvable only by the patient efforts of individual vendor. In order to deal with the software issues which are getting massive and complicated, the major Japanese vendors recently established Dependable Software Forum (DSF)1. In academia, various methodologies and tools were developed as the result of basic research. However, the results were not widely applied in industry. Each methodology and tool alone, on which the academia has been working, can not cover the overall life cycle of information systems (design, development, operation, maintenance). Thus, the applied research to integrate multiple research results is of great significance. In order to achieve the goal of stable operation of the information systems which support the infrastructure of various industries, we should strongly pursue the industry-academia collaboration in basic research and applied research.

In this strategic program, we propose basic research on specific subjects, and strong industry-academia collaboration for applied research to integrate the results of basic research.

In the life cycle of an information system, which is its design, development, operation and maintenance, conventional researches have been mainly focusing on the design and development phases, especially on improving the productivity and reliability of the software. However, in the future, software technology will be required capable of realizing a sustainable information system which can respond to the various environment changes including the changes in specifications during operation. Not just design and development phases, but research on holistic approach towards the entire life cycle should be pursued.

For the purpose of covering the entire life cycle, we propose basic research subjects such as extraction and analysis of the changing specifications, description of changes in models, program inspection, monitoring etc. Furthermore, in order to apply the results of such basic researches to real systems, we propose promotion of applied researches integrating multiple research results through industry-academia collaboration.

If all of this goes well, the expected outcome will be as follows: we can contribute to the world by showing methodologies and tools for implementing information systems that can cope with various changes and operate sustainably and stably. We will also be able to nurture researchers and engineers who have system thinking capability.